Keith Moore, 75, of Hook, was caught on CCTV dousing the door of the massage parlour in Hull with liquid and igniting it in September last year. The footage also showed his own trainers catching fire before he fled the scene.
The 'committed family man' and great-grandfather was given a suspended prison sentence at Hull Crown Court today after pleading guilty to stalking and arson offences, with Judge Sophie McKone taking into account his age, health and 'personal mitigation' when deciding against jailing him.
The court heard he also made threatening calls to the victim from public phoneboxes and hand-delivered an abusive letter to her workplace.
Prosecuting, Dale Brook said Moore, who has no previous convictions, 'waged an anonymous campaign of intimidation' against the victim. The former Labour member for Goole North first began using escort services five years ago, and met the complainant when she worked at the massage parlour later targeted. He became a regular client and was 'trusted' to visit her home in Beverley.
Mr Brook continued: "The contact became more regular and more personal. He was possessive and jealous, and started taking an unhealthy interest in her whereabouts. He discouraged her from seeing other clients through anonymous threats of violence."
Mr Brook added that Moore was unable to explain why he had followed her to Brough on one occasion when she was visiting a sports massage clinic. He accused her of 'seeing a man' and said he was in the area visiting a friend, though could not provide the friend's address.
In July 2021, Moore called the massage parlour and asked whether the victim was working. When told she was not, he attended the premises and threw a bottle of diesel and oil inside, terrifying the staff who believed it was a flammable liquid. He later made an anonymous call to the business in which he was 'irate and shouting' and accused the victim of having an affair with a married man.
In both the call and a letter later received by the parlour, he used phrases such as 'she is going to get the booking from hell' and claimed the fictional married man's wife had hired him to track her down.
In September, he visited the premises when the business was closed and set the doorway alight, causing around £900 worth of damage.
The victim later blocked Moore's number, though at the time she was unaware he was responsible for the incidents, but he made anonymous calls to her personal mobile phone using a disguised voice. He was arrested on October 24 after police traced the calls to two public phoneboxes and recovered CCTV footage showing him driving up to the kiosks.
He initially denied involvement, admitting he was 'fond of the woman' but not obsessed with her.
The victim said she was 'truly terrified' by Moore's behaviour and left unable to return to work, but implored the courts not to jail him and said she bore him no ill will.
Defending, Richard Thompson said: "There is no easy way of dressing this up. He can't explain it. The victim was fond of him as a friend and they got on well, but he thought it was more than it was. This was wholly out of character.
"He is a diligent man who through his work and volunteering has helped others with their problems. He has taken up causes. His family support him and he knows this could have destroyed his marriage, which will never be the same again. They are a close unit and he was the figurehead. He has let them all down."
The court was also told that Moore's great-grandson is currently terminally ill and receiving hospice care, and that Moore himself recently received a kidney transplant with the donor being a relative.
He has resigned all of his formal posts, including his council seat.
Moore offered apologies via his solicitor, but described his actions only as 'stupid'.
Sentencing him to 24 months in prison suspended for two years, 30 days of rehabilitation activity, 250 hours of unpaid work and to pay compensation of £1,900, Judge McKone said: "You began a campaign to keep her out of a job. The fact that it was anonymous makes it more sinister, as you pretended to be concerned about it. You did not consider anybody else - the victim, the business or your own family.
"Yet your actions were out of character and you have done good work for your community. You do have attitudes that need addressing."
A restraining order preventing Moore from making contact with the victim was granted indefinitely.